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5 classic mistakes game developers make when tracking their mobile ad campaigns

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5 classic mistakes game developers make when tracking their mobile ad campaigns
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Jean-Vincent Chardon is European Sales Manager at MobileAppTracking, the app tracking platform from HasOffers.

It can be a confusing world for game developers when it comes to mobile advertising.

There's a bewildering array of ad networks, exchanges and other sources of user traffic, not to mention the effort required to monitor exactly where your users are coming from and which ones provide the most value.

Most developers just want to do what they're good at and make great games; but the preference to self-publish means that many will need to delve into the complex world of mobile advertising planning and tracking.

So, in a bid to better help you navigate the mobile advertising ecosystem, here's five classic mistakes developers often make - and how you can avoid them.

#1: Putting all your marketing dollars into Facebook to drive installs

Of the estimated $13.1 billion spent on mobile advertising in 2013, Facebook accounted for $3.28 billion or approximately 25 percent. Facebook is certainly a key site for acquiring customers, but there are also hundreds of other traffic sources who collectively make up the other 75 percent of the mobile advertising pie.

Even the biggest ad spenders spread their marketing dollars around different networks and are constantly trying new ways to acquire. As long as you have good tracking software installed in your app then it's pretty easy to work across multiple traffic sources and to evaluate what's working best for you.

#2: Not measuring the right in-app events

Assuming that you've got you attribution tracking in place, you need to make sure that you're actually measuring the correct in-app events.

But which are the correct metrics to track? The most important thing is that you have your KPIs firmly established so you have a clear definition of what 'success' is.

You can use these metrics to build a fuller picture of the customer over time. Key metrics and behaviours should typically include significant points in the customer lifecycle, such as average time played and retention (which is usually how long you have a player for before they lapse either not playing, not spending but playing or deleting the app at some point).

You'll also need to blend this in with revenue numbers to create a clear benchmark of what success should look like.

#3: Not thinking about and tracking re-engagement campaigns

According to Ruby Newell-Legner in her book Understanding Customers, "It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one".

With so much focus being placed on acquiring customers in the word of app marketing, isn't it better to spend budget and re-engage with lapsed customers than it is to recruit new ones? The ability to re-target on mobile and re-engage with current and lapsed users should be key to any marketing campaign - as well as tracking your ROI.

#4: Not localizing user acquisition campaigns

There are many factors that go into driving a download and conversion of that download into an active user.

Imagine that your users come in through a marketing funnel or a series of gateways, typically consisting of advertising, app store copy, icon, review scores and other factors. The first sign post to your app is likely to be a mobile advert; so making the message clear and engaging to that user is absolutely essential.

It's hard enough to do this well in your native language, but we've seen many campaigns die at an early stage because English-speaking developers have not localised properly in other territories - especially South Korea and China.

Quality localisation must be at the heart of your app marketing campaign to ensure not just in your advertising, but also your app store landing page and even the app itself.

We all had a good laugh at the old meme 'All your base are belong to us' - but just don't make the same kind of mistake yourself!

#5: Relying on a revenue per install report to find out what's working

Ideally, a wide range of data should be used to create larger trends and pictures. Don't just look at the cost per install, because a customer's true value comes over a period of time.

What you should be doing is looking at immediate stats and extrapolating them out over a period of time; for example, measurements such as ARPU (average revenue per user), ARPPU (average revenue per paying user), and LTV (lifetime value) should all be calculated over a period of time - up to a year or more for some apps.

Other data considerations include funnel analysis, which means tracking users through a specific journey to understand how many of the users that started a given process completed it.

Likewise, cohort analysis is the study of behaviors of groups over time (see our more detailed blog on cohort analysis here).

Finally, there is a hidden factor in all of this which can skew your calculations; that's the halo effect or 'organic' growth you experience from being high in the charts and where your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) will lower as more people discover your app.

There may also be a viral effect on downloads that comes from hitting the top 20.